Thilo Hermann Expert in Residence
Move adaptability from afterthought to prime time.
"Being like water: such a gripping, relevant metaphor. Businesses need to stand up to change; to adapt quickly, again and again, or otherwise be condemned to irrelevance. And now that every business is becoming a Technology Business, ensure adaptability is a joint, shared responsibility of both business and IT. It should become a leading design principle flowing throughout the organization, not another brick in the wall."
Build only the exact operations and solutions that are being asked of you, leaving all future changes to your successor.
Crises will occur. Failures will strike. Opportunities will arise. Change will come, often in unexpected, unplannable ways. Adaptability is essential to deal with it. In a Technology business, a business’s agility largely depends on its technology agility, but it is way too late to change systems only when the need arises. Systems must be built by design to deal with disturbance and change. A variety of technologies enables this, from “mesh” API services and self-improving IT operations to open data sharing, and autonomous systems. It’s also about the mindset: the Technology Business context will always, routinely, shift, break and change. Only come to action when it occurs, and you are kicked around by the circumstances. Embrace it, and you become the change.
LIVE THE PRINCIPLE
- Change is not the enemy: the business context changes continuously, and so should technology; welcome comfortable and uncomfortable change, don’t demonize it.
- Architect to adapt: follow architectural patterns that enable an agile, distributed mesh, such as microservices; look for AI to drastically improve responsiveness.
- It will break: assume processes and systems will be disturbed – even break. Build in measures throughout to deal with failures and learn from them to improve resilience.
- Search the sweet and sour spots: maintain a heatmap of potential changes, for example due to legislation, future products and services, or new partners.
- Prepare your Change A-Teams: set up unified, cross-organizational teams that can absorb continuous change and act right away, especially when it was not planned.
- Move from project to product thinking: realizing that operations and systems always evolve – rather than end up in a final state – trains the adaptability muscles.
- Move from solution to platform thinking: a solution becomes only a temporary aggregate, built on a catalog of agile platform services and capabilities.
- Bridge strategy and operations: apply an integrated, DevOps-style mindset to continuously operationalizing strategy in business and IT systems.